A US Senate committee voted 24 to 4 for a compromise measure allowing more than $ 110 billion in basic and advanced technology research over five years in the face of growing competitive pressure from China.
The Infinite Frontiers Act would allow most of the money, $ 100 billion, to invest over five years in basic and advanced research, commercialization, and education and training programs in key technology areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications. , biotechnology and advanced energy.
The bill still needs to be approved by the full US Senate, and the US House of Representatives is working on similar efforts.
“This law will allow the United States to surpass countries like China, create more well-paying jobs in America, and help improve our country’s economic and national security,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who sponsored the bill with Senator Todd Young. , a Republican from Indiana.
Schumer said in a statement after the vote that he intended for the entire Senate to “review and finalize” the law by the end of the month, and that he expects strong bipartisan support.
While there is broad consensus on increased funding for innovation in the US, some Republicans are concerned that the bill lacks strong rules to prevent US organizations that benefit from this huge spending package from subsequently sending research and development overseas, including potentially to China.
Senator Marco Rubio said in a speech in the Senate on Tuesday that the law should prohibit the investment of American money in China’s military companies.
A Republican parliamentary aide told Reuters that “the lack of hard fences” runs counter to the purpose of the bill.
“The main problem with this bill as it stands is that it mainly promotes the development of intellectual property, innovation, taxpayer-funded research and development, which could pass into the hands of organizations affiliated with or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, or China in overall, “said the assistant.
Senate Democrats say they are confident that sufficient guarantees will be added before its completion.
The move will also set aside an additional $ 10 billion to set up at least 10 regional technology centers and set up a supply chain crisis response program to tackle issues such as a shortage of semiconductor chips damaging automotive production.
The bill does not include legislation allowing automakers to place tens of thousands of self-driving cars on US roads, despite the insistence of some legislators.
The autopilot has been criticized by trade unions and the plaintiff’s advocacy group.
Senator Gary Peters on Wednesday pushed for approval of an amendment to establish a $ 2 billion additional financial assistance program at the Department of Commerce to support the production of mature semiconductor chips used by automakers and other organizations.
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